I. Can't. Wait. 'Til. Sunday.

Bowling, Craps, Gambling, James family, Las Vegas, My-Sugar-Na, Nostalga, Reno, Restaurants, Vacation

Vegas, baby!

Not to bore you (I do that enough already) and not to rub it in (you still want me to try Peter Luger's?) but my go-round for bowling the USBC Open Championships (aka Nationals) is about a week away, and is it my fault that the tournament is in Las Vegas this year?  And Reno in each of the next two years?

Unfortunately for those travelling with me, I am a planner... once I get going, I can't stop.  I started researching airfare before Christmas.  I bet that I had most of our itinerary set before the Super Bowl.  And now with T-7 days, I am improving just about everything I touch.  (Side note; Come to think of it, I don't know what I will do on May 2 when I am home.)  Adding to the challenge of overplanning is the fact that (Sponsor's Name Here)'s Official Parents along with Jendy Wo, Revvy Al, my sister (whom I believe I've named, but I don't remember it and I don't feel like looking for it) and her friend the Slot Jockey are all coming along.

My-Sugar-Na's children's father lives in Central Iowa, so we are driving them there, then driving to Des Moines for the flight to Las Vegas.  The perfect flight for us leaves at 3:00 PM and gets to Las Vegas around 7:00 PM (conveniently about 5 minutes after my parent's flight arrives from Milwaukee).  But American Airlines had that particular flight about double the price of one that leaves (and arrives) 90 minutes later.  So I set up YAPTA.COM (short for "Your Amazing Personal Trave Assistant") to trigger an E-mail alert when that price dropped.  It worked to perfection, and for one day only, my fare was $228 RT for the flights that I wanted.  Cool beans.  Now that D-Day is approaching, I see that the 3:00 flight is already sold out.  Methinks (or maybe more appropriately Mehopes) they will be looking for volunteers to be bumped.  If the offer is right (a travel voucher to cover next year's trip to Reno and guaranteed seats on the next flight), I'd take that bump.  That's like a Vegas win before I ever get there!  Besides, the car is in my dad's name... he and my mom can sight see for a few minutes before going back to the airport to pick us up.

Now let's talk hotel.  I don't know how this happened, but a concensus was reached to stay at the Excalibur.  In February, we found a "early bird" deal, in which rooms were $36.  Then I called a casino host, and based on my play in Reno two years ago, we were offered a limo ride from the airport, and some buffet comps.  A couple of weeks ago, Jendy Wo found a new promotion, one that keeps the room rates about the same, but throws in a 2-for-1 ticket to the Tournament of Kings show for each room.  Considering that show was on our to-do list, we all jumped on it and adjusted our reservation accordingly.  Then last week, I get a letter from the Tropicana, which is right across the street from the Excalibur. (Long side note; On the way back from Reno two years ago, when I was changing planes in Las Vegas, I was bumped from my Frontier flight.  In addition to the voucher for free air travel, they booked me on a Midwest flight direct to Milwaukee that left six hours later.  One short cab ride later I was at the Tropicana - the closest low-roller casino to the airport - rollin' them bones.  I played craps and a little blackjack for four hours and went back to the airport for my flight.)  This letter from the Tropicana bemoans the fact that I haven't been there for awhile, and they are offering two nights at no charge.  Luckily for me, the available nights are while I am already in Vegas, so I contacted both hotels and made the arrangements.  So now for My-Sugar-Na and I to lodge for five days will cost about $120... total.  In other words, flight and hotel for five days is $288 each. 

Car rental was admittedly a little tough.  My parents and My-Sugar-Na and I are splitting the cost of a mini-van, and that is about $225 tax included.  We get E-mail all the time from Hotwire and Travelocity and the like with $15 a day deals in Vegas.  but somehow our dates were never included.  $225 is not bad, but usually car rentals don't match airfare.

Three of the eight of us are Vegas Virgins - my parents and Revvy Al.  So we tried to come up with an itinerary that would cover those of us who long for; Old Vegas (the Rat Pack Tribute Show at The Plaza and the Neon Museum), Themed Vegas (Tournament of Kings show at the Excalibur), Free Vegas (the Fremont St. Experience, the Bellagio Fountains, the Mirage Volcano, the Siren Show at TI), Not What You'd Think of Vegas (Atomic Testing Museum), Fad Vegas (various poker tournaments) and Dammit, This Looks Cool Vegas (the Vegas Mob tour and Haunted Vegas tour).  The average age of our group is about 45-50, so one thing that is NOT on our to-do list is to wait in line for 90 mintues at a club on a Tuesday evening to buy $400 bottles of wine.

And the food!  Restaurant.com was selling $25 gift certificates for only $4, so we snagged one for the Hash House a Go-Go (as seen on Rachel Ray's Vacation show) and one for Pampas Churrascaria (think Sabor, but Vegasier).  Throw in an unadvertiesed steak special at the Ellis Island Casino, the unadvertised steak and shrimp at the Hard Rock Casino's cafe and the Burger Bar at the Mandalay Bay, and I've got a vacation fit for a king.

Now, to find time for the actual bowling...

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